How to Migrate Your WordPress Site to A New Hosting Provider

    Adrian Try
    Adrian Try

    This article is part of a series created in partnership with SiteGround. Thank you for supporting the partners who make SitePoint possible.

    We’ve been talking a lot about web hosting recently. It’s important that your hosting plan matches the needs of your website, and your hosting provider is reliable, responsive, and around for the long haul.

    What if you’ve realized that your current plan doesn’t meet your needs. Or you’re dissatisfied with the service of your current provider? What’s involved in moving your WordPress site from one hosting provider to another? How can you achieve this without major headaches or downtime?

    I have to admit I’ve been thinking about changing hosting providers for a while, but since my websites were actually up and running, there wasn’t a sense of urgency. So I procrastinated.

    It seems that a lot of people procrastinate about changing hosting providers. Here are three reasons why:

    1. They’re not sure what type of hosting plan will give them a better experience. If that’s you, check out our article What Sort of Hosting Should I Choose for My Website?
    2. They’re not sure which company will do a better job than their current provider. “Better the devil you know…” If that’s you, follow the checklists in our article The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Hosting Provider.
    3. They’re not sure what steps to take, and don’t want to make things worse by making a wrong turn. After all, you don’t migrate a website every day. You might even wish someone would just do it for you!

    In this article we’ll explain what’s involved in a WordPress migration. Then we’ll show you how you can simplify the process by the use of plugins, or by passing the job on to someone who will just do it for you.

    What’s the best way to migrate your website? Read on and decide for yourself.

    First, What’s Involved in a WordPress Migration?

    Migrating your WordPress site to a new hosting provider is a three step process:

    1. Transfer the WordPress files, including WordPress itself, your themes and plugins, and your media files.
    2. Migrate the WordPress database that contains your posts and comments.
    3. Reconfigure WordPress to work from the new server, and also update your DNS records to point to the new host.

    Depending on the options available to you, there are a number of ways to do each step. Check your hosting provider’s documentation for their recommendations.

    Typically, you transfer the WordPress files (Step 1) using FTP or the online file manager provided by your hosting provider. You can save time by zipping the files on your current server, and unzipping them on the new server. Migrating the WordPress database (Step 2) can be completed by using your hosts database management tool (likely phpMyAdmin).

    Or you can simplify the process by the use of the following tools or services.

    Kick Start Your Migration with Backup Plugins

    Hopefully you’re backing up your site regularly. If you are, why not use your current backup as the first step in the migration. You’ve just saved yourself half the work.

    Plugins make backups easy. Here are some good ones:

    • VaultPress by Automattic costs $39 per year for a personal plan. The staff obviously know all about WordPress, and are available to help backup and restore your site.
    • BackupBuddy (Backup, Restore, Move) costs $80 per year for one site, and other plans available. It’s a backup plugin with the ability to clone a WordPress install to a new location, all from the dashboard of your existing site.
    • UpDraftPlus is popular, with 1,000,000+ active installs, and is free. (A premium version is available.) The free version does backups, while the premium version (see below) does cloning and migration.
    • BackUpWordPress currently has 200,000+ active installs, and is free.
    • WordPress Backup to Dropbox has 90,000+ active installs, and is free.

    Once you’ve backed up your site, you’ll need to perform a restore on the new server. Check out the plugin’s documentation for the recommended way to do this. You may restore manually following the steps above, or some plugins offer assistance.

    Move Your Site with Migration Plugins

    Taking the use of plugins a step further, some are able to both backup and restore your site, providing a complete migration in one tool.

    Here are some plugins capable of cloning and migrating your WordPress site:

    • Duplicator (Backup, Copy, Clone) is a popular solution, with 900,000+ active installs, and is free. Duplicator Pro (“migrate a site in just minutes”) has extra features and costs $39 for a personal license. This plugin has plenty of useful features, but is not the easiest to understand for beginners.
    • All-In-One WP Migration has 400,000+ active installs, and is free (with premium extensions). It migrates your site to a fresh WordPress install that must also have the plugin installed and activated. This one has an easy-to-use interface.
    • WP Clone by WP Academy has 300,000+ active installs, and is free. It migrates your site to a fresh WordPress install without using FTP. While highly rated, some people report quirks, and the developers admit it may fail in 10-20% of cases, especially when migrating larger sites.
    • UpDraftPlus Premium is a highly-rated backup plugin. The premium version costs $70-$145 is able to clone your site and migrate it to a fresh WordPress install.
    • Super Backup & Clone – Migrate for WordPress is a comprehensive backup plugin with migration features. It costs $34, and is available from CodeCanyon.
    • WP Migrate DB currently has 200,000+ active installs. The personal plan costs $89 for 12 installs. If you’re comfortable transferring your files to the new host via FTP, this plugin will do the trickier database migration for you.

    For more details on the best WordPress backup and migration plugins, check out Jeff Smith’s article, 5 WordPress Plugins for Backups and Migrations.

    Hand Off the Job to a Migration Service Provider

    Rather than performing the migration yourself, you may prefer to pay someone else to do it for you. Perhaps you lack the time or expertise. Or perhaps there’s a lot at stake—say an enterprise website—and it’s wise to put the job in the hands of experts.

    Web development freelancers and companies of all sizes offer WordPress migration services. Here are some suggestions about how to find the right service provider for you:

    • Search Google for “WordPress migration services”. Many WordPress developers offer WordPress migration services. Some specialize in it. If you already have a web developer you trust, start there.
    • Search Envato Studio for “WordPress migration”. Prices start around $50.
    • Search for “WordPress migration”. Prices start around $5.
    • Fanstastik specialize in enterprise builds, migrations and support. Prices start at $99 and are typically completed in two or three days.
    • (formerly WP Valet) started out specializing in WordPress migrations. While they now offer more services, they’re still one of the best for migration services of any size. Contact them for pricing.

    Ask for the Help of Your Hosting Provider

    Many hosting providers also offer migration services. After all, they want your business, so it’s in their interest to make switching to them from your current host as easy as possible.

    Check the company’s website or phone customer support to check whether such a service is available, and how much it will cost. They may even offer a limited number of migrations for free.

    What’s the Best Method for You?

    How confident are you of your own tech skills? How much is your time worth? When choosing the best migration plan, you’ll have to balance price with features and ease of use.

    Plugins with the most features or most friendly interface will cost you, as do migration services. Alternatively there are a number of ways you can migrate your site for free, including the use of plugins, or with the help of your new hosting provider.

    SitePoint recently partnered with SiteGround as our official recommended host, and they offer a WordPress migration service. In fact, they’ll migrate your first website for free.

    I decided to try their service out. I’ll let you know how it goes in my next article.